Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

An introduction to computers and computer systems
An introduction to computers and computer systems

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

4 Computers and data

A screenshot of data on a computer screen.

The word ‘data’ has been used several times now in the context of the computer receiving input data, generating data and outputting data. A computer can only work with information that is presented to it in a very strictly controlled format. When information is in this format it is called data. Quite simply, a computer cannot perform its task if the information it needs has not been transformed into the required data form. In the examples in the previous sections, the data are the inputted numbers and those outputted by the program. The word data is actually plural (datum refers to an item of data), but is often used in the singular, e.g. ‘The data is …’. You will find both uses in this course, depending on the context. You will find out more about the format of data a computer needs later in this course.